The next door.

Thank you to dedicated readers (Jordan, dad; updated! there are more: Laurel, Matt) continuing to visit our own system in hopes of finding new updates after a four-month break from regular posting. A four-year run of (nearly) daily posting did exactly what I had hoped it would: taught me much about healthcare.

It also introduced me to an engaged community dedicated to transforming healthcare I didn’t know existed, proved to myself that it’s possible to have a voice of change without decades of experience, and evolved my thinking on numerous healthcare issues.

Toward the end of the blogging run I started to feel my writing wasn’t adding to the conversation. I was linking, linking, linking. Not thinking. Nor writing. Linking makes the web go ‘round—but there’s an invigorating satisfaction that comes with adding an original thought every now and again. That feeling was missing. So I stopped.

And took a lengthy break. I’m starting to get my flow back. I have notebooks and Google Docs filled with thoughts I want to explore and share. Within the last 30 days I’ve decided to start a new project. I’m not exactly sure what it’s web form will take but this post is committing me to making it happen.

What I do know is that much of the new project will be about the chart I sketched here. Healthcare (all of it!) is under significant regulatory and free-market pressures like it has never been before. It’s a tremendously exciting time.

So I’m venturing a guess: healthcare (all of it!) will turn to mobile and digital technologies to solve problems. Solutions won’t always involve mobile and digital technologies, but the coming changes will at least, in part, be facilitated by them. The care part of healthcare is still a uniquely human to human interaction. Leading healthy lives still requires behavior change, aided by digital technology or not. 

In reality that guess isn’t much of one. The growth of digital and mobile have completely transformed other industries. Some healthcare organizations have dove-in head first. Others are testing the water with their toes. By 2025, embracing mobile and digital won’t be a choice. Those who say no won’t be competitive by then, if they even exist. Lots of possibilities for thinking about the healthcare-wide implications. Stay tuned.

(In the chart healthcare units are used to depict healthcare utilization, they are a completely made-up measurement. An inpatient visit is not equal to an outpatient visit is not equal to a mobile visit. In fact, I don’t think healthcare via mobile will even be discussed in “visits.” Respectively, the time required for each drops precipitously and the number of interactions possible increases exponentially.)

“Family Medical Officer”

This irks me. Really irks me.

In what is otherwise a pretty forward offering, El Camino Hospital has launched its first mobile phone app. All the standard features (find a doctor, ER waiting time, etc.) are included. But it also includes a tool to track medical histories for all the members of the family. Neat.

This, it seems, is the jumping off point. El Camino has anointed the household medical decision maker the “Family Medical Officer.” They even had the audacity to trademark the phrase.

It’s not that this role doesn’t exist, because it does. What is so frighteningly healthcare-centric is the terminology. Give me an example of one household, just one, that uses the phrase “Family Medical Officer.”

I called her mom. You may have called him dad. Some may have called her sweetie. But no one has called him or her “Family Medical Officer.” Or will.

It’s another shining example of healthcare delivery organizations that don’t get people. Patients are people! We’d all be better served by looking through healthcare from their perspective, not ours.

Bonus: If they were really about spreading the terminology, they’d knock off the pretentious “TM” from their future iterations of the phrase.